Press Release
August 17, 2007


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino "Nene" Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today cautioned law enforcement authorities against falsely using the Human Security Act (Republic Act 9372) to harass and persecute individuals who have not committed any terrorist act but who may have earned the government's ire because of their involvement in the protest movement or membership in progressive or cause-oriented groups.

Pimentel expressed outrage over a newspaper report that three United States-based female members of Gabriela Network Dr. Annalisa Enrile, award-winning writer Ninotchka Rosca and human rights advocate Judith Mirkinson were allegedly placed on a government watchlist, preventing them from leaving the country unless they obtain security clearances from the authorities.

"The Human Security Act cannot be used as a reason for preventing the departure of anyone who has not committed any wrongdoing," the minority leader said.

"The order to put them on the watchlist and bar them from leaving the country should be questioned. It is in my opinion a clear abuse of power by bureaucrats at the immigration."

Enrile, Rosca and Mirkinson attended the recent 10th Women's International Solidarity Affair in Quezon City sponsored by Gabriela.

According to the newspaper report, Dr. Enrile was stopped by the Bureau of Immigration from leaving the country on Aug. 5. She recounted that she had already checked in her luggage at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport at around 8 p.m. for her flight back to Los Angeles, California when immigration officials told her that she was on a watchlist and would not be allowed to depart without the necessary clearances.

Gabriela protested the maltreatment of its three US-based members, saying Enrile, Rosca and Mirkinson are now among the first batch of victims of the HSA.

Pimentel reminded security and law enforcement authorities about their own assurances that the HSA will not be used to harass political dissenters or to curtail their civil liberties.

The HSA, he said, is very clear that the State shall uphold the basic rights and fundamental liberties of the people as enshrined in the Constitution.

Pimentel said he was instrumental in introducing several amendments to the local version of the anti-terrorism law to ensure that there are adequate safeguards against violation of human rights which may arise due to misinterpretation or abuse of the new law.

"Even as the State has the right to extirpate terrorism, it shall nevertheless continue to uphold the basic rights and fundamental liberties of our people. Afterall, the Constitution is the bedrock of the protection of the basic rights and fundamental freedoms of the people. These basic rights and fundamental freedoms must not be sacrificed in the guise of protecting them from the scourge of terrorism," he explained.

According to the latest report, Enrile, Rosca and Mirkinson were removed from the watchlist Thursday.

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